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The Finder – S01E04 – “Swing and a Miss”

Fox's The Finder

The Finder – S01E04 – “Swing and a Miss”

When Isabel’s new boyfriend gets robbed, she convinces Walter to take the case. Walter knows that the boyfriend is hiding something and warns her that he always finds more than what he is looking for. The Finder ends up discovering more than anyone bargained for and this time it’s all about his relationship with Isabel. While it’s a small dip in quality from the first three, Finder continues to perform well with snappy humor to spare.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

The Finder – S01E04 – “Swing and a Miss”

Isabel askes Walter to help retrieve her boyfriend's stolen goods.

Isabel is dating a famous baseball player, Frankie, and he gets robbed of many valuables, including his luck. He’s reluctant to admit this so Walter refuses to take the case. Isabel persuades him to do so as a personal favor. Walter warns her that, as always, he finds more than the item lost and she’s willing to take the risk.

Some great moments in this episode, especially with the un-aptly named Twins. This really showcases the episode’s quick witted humor. You can’t look away but you’re so busy laughing it’s hard not to.

The bad part though is that you knew Frankie’s catcher was in on it as soon as you met him. It was pretty obvious and another ‘swing and a miss’ for Finder in the detective element of the show. It’s possible that they are focusing so much on the humor and characters that they are letting this lapse. It’s not enough to harm the show as said elements are more than enough to keep watchers interested, but it’s something to consider this early in the series as they find their legs.

Willa edges dangerously closer to Wesley Crusher territory though at least this was somewhat reasonable in that her Uncle Shad helped the guy set up the business (dues ex anyone?). The gun battle was weird as well, kinda stupid actually, but I’m sure that was the point as Walter makes the gun comment right afterwards. Don’t bring a gun to a fight if you don’t know how to use one properly I say.

As for Walter, he does find more than Frankie’s luck. In the episode we discover that he and Isabel have a ‘friend with benefits’ structured relationship with rules and sub-paragraphs and everything. Walter realizes his jealousy and Isabel realizes she thinks a lot more about Walter than decent for a casual relationship. It’s different to see the two leads start to get together so soon in a show. Moonlighting-curse aside, it just makes literary sense to drag it on a little bit so that the payout is bigger for the audience.

So far this show has shown an irreverence for convention, so I’m betting this is another nod at that. We really don’t get a successful conclusion in “Swing and a Miss” so it’s possible they will weave in some obstacles. It’s dangerous territory though, so much can go so wrong, but if they get through successfully then it will be totally worth it.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Television

 

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Finder – S01E03 – “A Cinderella Story”

FOX's The Finder

Finder – S01E03 – “A Cinderella Story”

A figurative ‘Prince Charming’ asks Walter to look into the disappearance of the woman of his dreams who rushed out of a night club leaving nothing but one shoe and a smudged clue behind. Nothing is as it seems in this episode and Walter gets in a bit over his head as all the evidence points to a serial killer on the loose. Meanwhile, Willa upsets Leo and her idea of making it up to him, well, it’s not strictly speaking legal. Another solid episode leaving The Finder’s track record 3-0.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

Finder – S01E03 – “A Cinderella Story”

Walter examines 'Cinderella's' shoe.

Even NASA scientists need a little… recreation. Ira Messing (Ian Reed Kessler) meets Lisa (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) in a bar and the two hit it off. A disturbing phone call later and she’s running from the night club, one shoe left behind with a garbled message. Ira goes to Walter and asks for his help in finding her because he just knows something bad has happened. Well, he isn’t exactly wrong there.

The Walter storyline, while it’s the A-Plot, is overshadowed by the B-Plot which is the story of Leo’s family and Willa. We discover that Leo’s wife and child weren’t murdered in the traditional sense but ate tainted meat which the company owner knew was bad but sold it anyway. I guess he got off scott-free because he was walking around as a wealthy man. What Leo needs is the Leverage team…

Anyway, Willa discovers this by sneaking into Leo’s computer, though it’s not exactly hacking when he says his password out loud as he types it. (It’s Asamandious, at least I think that’s the spelling, I can’t find the word anywhere) So, Leo is all manner of upset with Willa and considers firing her. Willa asks Walter what to do and he says “make it up to him”. He says this to a Romani, he really should have seen this coming.

Willa manipulates her cousin into helping her roll a guy, the guy being the CEO. Several whacks with a baseball bat later and the man is in the hospital. As Walter points out “I meant bake him a cake”.

Finder – S01E03 – “A Cinderella Story”

Walter gets 'caught up' in the case.

Leo doesn’t approve but he does understand the sentiment behind it. A little rocky this relationship but it’s definitely better than the other routes they could have gone with Willa. If they can continue to give her meaty stuff like this rather than typical teen crap then I’ll retract my earlier statements of her being a completely useless character.

As for the A-plot, turns out there is a serial killer on the loose abducting women. No, not really, the missing ‘Cinderella’ is abducting her ‘Prince Charmings’. I’m kinda disappointed in Walter in this episode, his ‘deduction’ was pretty simple because, duh, all the shoes belong to the same person. It would take a crime lab like twenty minutes to figure that out. Oh well, him being tasered is quite funny.

Shows usually try to put their strongest episodes first in order to catch the audience so I hope this isn’t the cream of the crop as right now they’ve been pretty steady and consistent. Episodes Four and Five will be telling.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Television

 

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Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

FOX's The Finder

Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

Taking a page from NCIS, Bones regular Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) visits the Finder to recertify Walter to work on federal cases. Sweets rides shot gun as Walter attempts to locate evidence to at least stay the execution of a cop accused of killing another cop. A couple of Miami Vice homage’s with Sweets being adorable later and Walter has his man. Well, he’s pretty sure. The B-plot with Willa is kind of dumb but at least shows some character development which isn’t as cliché as the pilot. With the inclusion of several wonderful scenes and The Finder shows marked improvements and a steady gait.

Score: 3 ½ of 5

>Spoilers<

We begin with a rather zealous warden who believes X-Files’ Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is an innocent man on death row. There’s a reminder that Leo is a full fledge lawyer, in case anyone missed that between the backdoor pilot and first episode, and we’re also treated to an interesting spin on Walter’s irreverence. Walter wears a suit, an honest to goodness suit, with no arguments, no jacket over a shirt, etc. It’s an interesting touch, which may or may not have been deliberate, but it is subtle character development. Of course, as soon as he’s back at the bar he strips down to his usual polo and shorts in front of Sweets.

Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

Dr. Lance Sweets accompanies Walter.

Another nice touch is we learn that the bar is actually Leo’s and it runs on the honor system… which is a nice way to address and lampshade the fact that if they are always off finding things then who is watching the bar?

Walter then sets out in search of evidence in the form of a bullet, Sweets in tow. Sweets is a fun character and Bones fans will enjoy this crossover and I think the same is true for non-Bones viewers. Sweets has a certain cute charm which is pretty endearing. His cameo does serve a purpose though, and that is to be the fulcrum in which the missed exposition and background from the first episode is finally lifted out of the way.

Sweets inadvertently gets Leo to admit that his wife and daughter have been killed and that sent him into a very angsty and dark depression. One can guess it was the murderer which Walter stopped Leo from killing, or maybe who Leo thought was the killer. Hopefully we’ll get a little more here and there about this before the inevitable flashback episode because we know one is coming.

Also, best line of the series so far comes from Sweets asking if Walter ever considered committing suicide. His answer: “I can think of at least ten people I’d kill before I’d kill myself.” This really locks in the tone of the series, sharp, witty, and blunt.

Finder – S01E02 – “Bullets”

Possibly one of the funniest gun battles... ever.

The rest of the episode is either a lampoon of 80s cop shows or an overly sardonic and sarcastic treatise on 80s cop shows. I’m not entirely sure what that means but it feels right. Under the obvious Miami Vice pot shots there is the now classic comment “it was a different time in the 80s, a simpler time”. This refers to the concept that before cops became more accountable for their actions, civil liberties were really championed, and a public became more aware of their ability to fight back via video, internet, etc, cops tended to rule as they saw fit. It was the wild west without the tumble weeds in the 80s and cops were on the take, roughed up anyone, and generally acted as seen on tv about the 80s. (How much of this is true and Hollywood hyperbole I really need to look into.) This idea of the 80s has become a fixture in modern procedurals like CSI, Castle, and Cold Case, anytime the leads look into an old case which took place in the 80s.

Walter gets tired of the constant over use of the phrase “it was a different/simpler time” and I’m left wondering just how deliberate this was. Is it a comment on an overused trope or about the misconception of the 80s or a reflection of what the writers think of such an excuse? I might shrug it off it not for Sweet’s later proclaims that the actual murder wasn’t that interesting, it was the finding of the bullet that was fascinating and fun. Could this be reference to the fact that most people don’t watch murder mysteries for the murders themselves but the process in which the detective figures out who the killer is? It’s all about clues that need to be found and pieces together… and what does the Finder do?

Could I be giving the writers too much credit here? Only time will tell.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Television

 

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The Finder – Overview – Pilot

FOX's The FinderThis overview is based on the pilot only. Updates will be forthcoming as the show progresses.

FOX’s new series The Finder is based on The Locator books by Richard Greener which I haven’t read so I can’t say much on that subject at this time. The series was created by the same creator/exec producer as the popular series Bones and he used the show to introduce The Finder as a backdoor pilot. Basically, Bones produced a normal episode for them only with the The Finder characters prominent in it. This way the creators of The Finder received an instant test audience to see if the show was viable on its own. However, The Finder is not really a spin off in the same sense shows like NCIS are spin-offs. Sure, Bones and The Finder share the same universe but that is about it. If there was no Bones backdoor pilot and you put them up next to each other you really wouldn’t be able to see the resemblance.

This is one of the most obvious yet sneaky moves made by FOX lately but it might have paid off. The Finder did premiere with so-so ratings but its lead-in Bones underperformed as well so it could just be a matter of external factors keepings the fan base away from the television that night. Since both shows were down it’s too early to judge if this is a bad sign for Finder or not.  If The Finder can rise up to Bones’ average audience share, and scare up some more, then it’s got it made as a Thursday night television show that competes against powerhouse Grey’s Anatomy.

Does it have what it takes? Let’s take a look.
Cast of FOX's The Finder

The story centers around Walter Sherman, an ex-military, PTSD suffering, savant played by Geoff Stults. After a combat injury Walter gains Sherlockian level observation skills but he has the tack of a fifth grader (which makes the character similar to Bones’ Dr. Brennan but that is where the similarities end). Walter also has a compulsion to find things and once he’s on the trail he won’t stop until he finds the item, hence the title. Other characters make the obvious comparison to blood hounds and worry he will run himself to the ground.

He’s accompanied by his own Chewbacca in the form of Michael Clarke Duncan’s Leo Knox. Leo basically owes Walter a life debt and so faithfully follows him around acting as financial advisor, Jiminy Cricket, and steam roller. Michael Clarke Duncan is great and really underappreciated, he pulls off the subtle, Zen-like, traits of Leo despite being, well, Michael Clarke Duncan. He’s a big, intimidating looking man and one hell of an actor.

The love interest (because there is always a love interest) is Mercedes Masohn ‘s Deputy US Marshal Isabel Zambada. Walter helps her with catching felons and she gets him information. There is a sexual relationship between them, a friend’s with benefits situation, which is positively underplayed.

The main cast is rounded off with the troubled gypsy teen, Willa (Maddie Hasson), a seemingly pointless addition to the cast from the backdoor pilot. She is the ‘daughter never had/just needs someone to believe in them’ cliché and might be a possible grab at pulling in younger audience members. At first she reminded me of Zoey Carter from Eureka, styling and all, but Zoey was better acted and had more depth in her debut episode. Still, some promise here as long as they avoid the obvious cliché pitfalls.

As for the show itself, the tone is very similar to Bones as to be expected. With a smaller cast and no ‘outsider’ character the story can skip the ‘breaking in’ period of story arcs. Since everyone already knows each other it’s just a matter of showing those relationships to the audience. Dropping the viewers into a show without the benefit of story arc exposition required from having a character get to know other characters is always a plus in my book.

There is also a strong comedic element of quick witted dialogue and visual (non toilet humor) gags in the pilot which I hope carries into the series. I am a sucker for snappy one liners as long as those speaking them can pull off the timing and Stults and Duncan play off each other quite nicely. There is something about Walter’s socially recluse scrawny neurotic to Leo’s gentle giant who could kick your butt that works wonderfully together in that ‘odd couple’ way.

In the pilot they had a celebrity guest star, John Fogerty, and it’s unclear at this time if this was a one-off because Fogerty wrote the theme song or if the series will employ more guest stars to jazz up the place. Could be interesting. Fogerty was looking for his favorite guitar, makes you wonder what other celebrities might need located.

On the technical side, the pacing of the pilot episode was off but this is the pilot episode. The writers and director had more exposition and groundwork to lay than usual so hopefully that’s a one-off. The ending was also very ‘scooby doo’ but again, that could be pilotitis (yes, I think I just made that word up). Thankfully everything else in the pilot was spot on from the camera work to the set pieces. Let’s hope they keep that up.

Overall, the pilot did its job and peaked this viewer’s interests. The show has lots of potential which it has already touched on (always a good sign). Next week it will have an American Idol lead in so hopefully it can get those ratings up. I should have an episode specific review of the pilot with more details up soon, so look for that too.

Score: 3 1/2 Ratings Star

Here’s a question, if you could have the The Finder find you anything, what would it be? And no, your dignity after your 21st birthday party does not count.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Television

 

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